'Our second home': happy campus living with award for excellence

ONE BIG FAMILY: (back) Residential advisors Blake Smoothy, Adib Golshan, Ellie Butina, Brigid O’Rielly, Damian Lewis and residential co-ordinator Terri Duffy and (front) Student initiatives co-ordinator Joanne McRae and student Neil Sengupta with the award from the Australasian Association of College and University Housing Officers. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0507sguni1

ONE BIG FAMILY: (back) Residential advisors Blake Smoothy, Adib Golshan, Ellie Butina, Brigid O’Rielly, Damian Lewis and residential co-ordinator Terri Duffy and (front) Student initiatives co-ordinator Joanne McRae and student Neil Sengupta with the award from the Australasian Association of College and University Housing Officers. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0507sguni1

FOR Charles Sturt University (CSU) student Ellie Butina, her dorm is her family. 

“Most of us live four or five hours from home so it’s really like our second home,” she said. 

CSU, the largest regional provider of student accommodation in Australia, has been recognised for the service it provides students living on campus.

Residence Life, which runs student accommodation at CSU, has been recognised by the Australasian Association of College and University Housing Officers.

Born in Wagga Wagga Ms Butina is in her third year of university at the Orange campus and decided to take on a role as a residential advisor (RA) because the RA she had in her first year provided invaluable support.

“We’re not counsellors but we can point [students] in the right direction ... we’re the first port of call,” she said.

Fellow RA Blake Smoothy said the group provides support for students who were homesick, needed help settling in to the students who were simply lost on campus. 

“I wanted to take on a leadership role within the university,” he said. 

CSU was presented with the Australasian Association of College and University Housing Officers award for excellence in April.

CSU student initiatives co-ordinator Joanne McRae worked across all five CSU campuses and said she believed CSU was recognised because CSU had found a balance between university life and the creation of a community and family. 

“Being on campus at CSU provides a broad student experience ... not just a degree.”

In 2014, CSU is accommodating 2600 on-campus students including 246 in Albury-Wodonga, 1124 in Bathurst, 62 in Dubbo, 362 in Orange and 1159 in Wagga Wagga.

More than half of CSU students living on campus come from outside inner regional Australia. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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